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Why govt has warned against using N95 masks with valves

In a letter to all states and union territories, the health ministry has warned against the use of N95 masks with valved respirators by people. Rajiv Garg, the director general of health services, said it has been observed that that N95 masks, particularly ones with valved respirators were being inappropriately used by the public and health workers.

The Directorate General Of Health Services said the use of valved respirator N-95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus because it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask.

“In view of the above, I request you to instruct all concerned to follow the use of face/mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N95 masks,” Garg said in the letter.

While the masks filter in air that the user inhales, the valves help release exhaled air back into the environment, CNBCTV18 pointed out. The report said that the valved masks would protect the user but could potentially end up harming others near them when the masks are used to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Garg also referred to an earlier advisory on the use of homemade protective cover for face and mouth available on the health ministry website.

The advisory, issued in April, said certain countries have claimed benefits of homemade face cover for the general public. Homemade face cover is a good method for maintaining personal hygiene, it said, and such usage certainly will help in maintaining overall hygienic health conditions.

It suggested that such people who are not suffering from medical conditions or having breathing difficulties may use the handmade reusable face cover, particularly when they step out of their house. “This will help in protecting the community at large.”

These masks, the advisory said, are not recommended for health workers and
people working with or in contact with Covid-19 patients.

This is what the advisory said:

It is advised that two sets of such face covers be made so that one can be washed while the other is used. Hand washing would still remain essential criteria and hand should be washed before wearing the face cover. Such face covers should also not be thrown anywhere but kept safely, washed properly with soap and hot water and dried properly before they are used.

These face covers could be made out of clean cloth available at home, which needs to be thoroughly cleaned and washed before a face cover is stitched/made. The face cover should be prepared in such a manner that it can cover the mouth and nose completely and can be tied over the face easily. – Huff Post

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